UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes looks to successfully defend her title for a second time this Saturday (September 9) against Valentina Shevchenko, a top contender she first met (and defeated) back in March 2016. Nunes, 14-4, won her current title in July 2016 with a first-round mauling of Miesha Tate. She then went on to defend the belt with a stunning 48-second demolition of former champion Ronda Rousey. Now, in the shape of striker Shevchenko, she faces her sternest test to date.
Before Saturday’s bout at UFC 215, Nunes took some time out to answer the questions of Fighters Only contributor Tony Reid.
Question: Aside from the obvious Ronda Rousey fight, which fight from your career are you most proud of?
Amanda Nunes: I would choose my fight with Sara McMann because I was the underdog going into that fight and I showed that I don’t have a weak ground game like everyone thought I did. I showed that I have a great ground game. I come from a jiu-jitsu background and now everyone knows that.
Q: You work with the great team at ATT. What was the most memorable moment from any training session you have been involved in?
AN: No one moment stands out. Each and every moment that I learn something in the gym is a special moment. That happens all the time. I am my biggest challenge in the gym. I am constantly training with myself to get better every day.
Q: How did you get your nickname ‘The Lioness’?
AN: The first gym that I trained at in Brazil, the logo was a picture of two lions and I was the only girl training at the gym at the time, thus making me ‘The Lioness’. My old coach started to call me ‘Leoa’ for my aggressive style and it stuck.
Q: You were ranked in the top five in the UFC women’s bantamweight division for quite some time, yet you seemed to be overlooked when the title shots came around. What took so long for you to get that title shot?
AN: I feel that they (the UFC) think that I won’t sell the fights as much as some of the other women. I just knew I had to keep finishing people until they (the UFC) couldn’t deny me that opportunity anymore.
Q: Who has the heaviest hands of anybody you have fought or trained with?
AN: Nina Ansaroff has the heaviest hands of anybody I have trained with or have fought as a female.
Q: Who are the people that inspire you, personally and professionally?
AN: No one really inspires me. I inspire myself. I find all the inspiration I need within.
Q: If you weren’t a professional mixed martial artist, what would you be doing for a living right now? I read you were studying Physical Education before moving to the US…
AN: If I wasn’t fighting or pursuing a career in MMA I would continue my degree as a personal trainer in Brazil or continue my pursuit of being a soccer player.
Q: As a fan of the sport, who are your favorite fighters to watch?
AN: I would say Edson Barbosa is one of my favorite fighters to watch because he is always exciting and explosive in the Octagon. I also really like watching Jon Jones fight.
Q: Many professional athletes have strange superstitions. Do you have any we should know about?
AN: My superstitious habit is that I don’t like to wear anything that I have worn and lost in.
Q: What is the most amazing thing you have seen in regards to the growth of MMA since the beginning of your career?
AN: The most amazing thing I have witnessed is how much attention and acceptance the women’s divisions have received over the years. It just keeps getting bigger and better.